Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little and Eastern BWOs)
2. Little Yellow Quills
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies
4. Slate Drakes
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Mahogany Duns
Most available/ Other types of food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Coming Week
The recent cooling trend in the weather turned on the master fly fishing switch. Just when things
appeared to be slowing down for the fall season, the change in the weather fired up anglers from
coast to coast. Until recently, most of our Perfect Fly customers planning to fish the Smokies were
mostly the serious type. It appears the backcountry campsites will be very busy during the month of
October. The recent cooling trend changed that because in terms of activity and excitement, the
past few days have been more like the beginning of the spring season than autumn. Everyone
wants to take advantage of the excellent weather.
Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 75. It will warm back up a little on Wednesday.
Thursday will bring the first slight chance of rain. Friday will be about the same. The change for
rain increase a little for Saturday but as of now, they are only showing a 30 percent chance. The
highs will drop back down to near 74. Sunday will remain about the same.
I'm betting the chances of rain will be increased by the National Weather Service the closer it gets
to the weekend. It may be more wishing than thinking because we could use some more rain. The
streams are in perfect shape right now but it will take some more precipitation to keep them that
Remember: The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most available and easiest
for the trout to acquire. As I have been doing this second year strategy go-around, for comparison
purposes, I'm first showing last years strategy article:
Last Year: We didn't get near the amount of rain I expected to see yesterday. Most of the park
received from a quarter to a half inch of precipitation. A few small areas got almost
three-quarters of an inch. It has made little change in the low to normal stream levels
that currently exist in the park.
Little River, which was getting fairly low, rose just a tad. Little Pigeon River, which was
relatively normal, changed very little, not even enough for me to be able to sneak up
on the large smallmouth I've recently discovered. The small amount of rain didn't even
get the water slightly dingy. Due to the very unusual location of these fish, I'm
beginning to think it's impossible to make a cast without spooking them. I keep
checking the water but for the last couple of weeks, there's hasn't been a reason to
even try. I did make an attempt just before it was cracking daylight two days ago, but I
spooked them when it was still dark. I didn't even get into position to attempt to make
a cast. No, I'm not telling anyone exactly where because that would probably result in
the fish leaving the area for good.
All in all, the weather and stream conditions in the park remain in very good shape.
The rain was just enough to keep things normal. I checked out a few locations Sunday
afternoon between 1:30 and 4:30 PM including travel time to and from my home, but I
actually fished only about an hour. Most of the time I was in route to different
locations. I had to leave prior to the time any hatches should occur, so I didn't really
get to determine much in that respect.
My fishing schedule has changed drastically during the last year. I would normally
never fish the park on a weekend, rather fish a good bit during the week. I wanted to
fish yesterday (Monday) because of the low pressure system moving in, but fishing on
weekdays has become more and more impractical because Angie and I both are busy
getting Perfect Fly orders out.
I caught trout at each of the three different locations I fished, a total of seven. Since I
was checking the streams for staying up to date with this article, I left each location
catching trout. It reminds me of fishing during the three day practice days of the
national B.A.S.S.tournaments I fished back when Mobby Dick was a minnow. You just
catch a couple of fish and leave to look for another spot to fish during the tournament.
I think some of the trout guides do that when they're trying to develop a strategy for
their upcoming clients but other than that, I doubt many anglers choose to leave when
they are catching fish. Doing so doesn't normally bother me, but in the case of my last
stop on the Oconaluftee River, having to leave did bother me. Being rather stupid and
not paying close attention to what I was doing, I lost a very nice brown trout. I wanted
to stay and get even but I couldn't without upsetting Angie's plans. I keep learning not
to do that - the hard way.
I guess I'm straying from the subject and probably because there's little change in the
strategy I recommended from last week. I did see a couple of Little Needle Stoneflies
flying around on Walkers Camp Prong but I left before I could see the extent of what
may be hatching. I didn't see any Little Yellow Quills and wondered why. I saw a few,
but only a few, Mahogany Dun spinners in the bushes on the Oconaluftee, but again,
left before a hatch would have taken place. I didn't see any Little Yellow stoneflies on
upper Little River or the Oconaluftee. I spotted a couple of Slate Drake Nymph shucks
on rocks at Little River.
I caught fish on the #18 Blue-winged Olive Nymph but changed to an #18 Mahogany
Dun nymph after seeing a couple of spinners on my last stop on the Oconaluftee
River. I feel fairly confident I would have seen some hatches and spinner activity if I
could have stayed another hour or two. It was a clear day Sunday and I doubt there
was much hatch intensity. All in all, the action was much faster than I expected.
I'm not going to repeat the same strategy I outlined last week and the week before
that. Just stick with imitations of the nymphs that are most available and plentiful - that
is the BWOs, or depending on your observations, State Drake and/or Mahagony Dun
nymphs. That shouldn't change until you see hatch activity taking place. If so, go to
an emerger or dun imitation of that insect. Just before dark, check the water for
I did have one customer that reported he did okay on the Straight Fork. I'm glad to
hear there are still fish there. He noticed some obvious flood damage in the upper
section but not much change in the lower part of the stream. He had fished the stream
before and reported he didn't really notice any change in the catching, although he
fished for only a short time.
I've been reluctant to suggest Straight Fork to anyone since the flood problem they
encountered a few weeks ago. That's great news because that's one of our favorite
streams to fish. He also noted that he spotted some Little Yellow Stoneflies, but also
noted that they were smaller than a hook size 14. My guess is that they were either
Little Green Stoneflies, some of which are yellow as yellow gets, as strange as that
sounds, or either some small species of Summer Stones that are not very plentiful. At
any rate, he did see some Yellow Stonefly activity, whereas I haven't in a while. There
will be some upcoming hatching of these stoneflies taking place. That's for sure. Also
keep an eye out for the slightly larger size Fall baetis hatches (BWOs) that will take
place in the near future.
The first note of importance is that there's no significant changes from my last weeks strategy
article insofar as the insects and other foods the trout may be eating. From reading last years
report, it's obvious things have progressed a little ahead of what was taking place then. However,
that's only a couple of weeks, not a month or two.
As I noted last week, I still think the best odds for the highest number of trout will come from fishing
an imitation of the BWO nymph in a hook size 18 or 20. There are more of these little swimming
nymphs in the water that are exposed and available for the trout to eat than any other food - that
is, up until another insect comes out of their hiding places and moves in position to hatch.
In the lower elevations, you could see a decent numbers of Mahogany Duns. If so, you may want to
switch to an imitation of the Mahogany Dun nymph. Of course, if a hatch is underway, you would
switch to a Mahogany Dun emerger or dun pattern. It's also possible that any of the other aquatic
insects listed above may be hatching and if so, you should follow the same procedure and switch
to imitations of their respective stage of life most available at the time. Until you do encounter other
hatches, your best odds will be to stick with the small BWO nymph.
The Little Yellow Quills and Needle stoneflies should be hatching in the upper and mid-elevations.
Decent hatches of baetis species of BWO's will take place by the first week or two of October. Little
Yellow Stoneflies have started showing up in the lower and mid elevations. The Mahogany Duns
should continue to hatch. The intensity of the sparse Slate Drake hatches could increase any time.
Again, the worst thing you can do is to change flies every few minutes, searching for something
you think will work. That means only one thing. You don't have a strategy and your relying purely
Copyright 2012 James Marsh